Ford Cochran

This tribute to our fallen National Geographic colleagues Ann Judge and Joe Ferguson is republished on the 15th anniversary of their death in the plane that was flown into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. It was written for the tenth anniversary of that dark day, but the memories of them and our grief at their...

January 12, 2012 marks the second anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, leaving more than 180,000 homes destroyed and 1,500,000 people homeless. While the United Nations and a number of governments, NGOs (such as SOIL, lead by NG Emerging Explorer Sasha Kramer, a project to transform wastes into resources), and volunteers have worked...

The devastation following a large oil spill might naturally prompt anger, grief, frustration—or an effort to learn why it happened so as to better avert the next one. For conservationist, author, and National Geographic Education Fellow John Francis, the collision of two Standard Oil tankers near the Golden Gate Bridge in 1971, and the subsequent...

As the Salas y Gómez team concludes its work near Easter Island, Chile, and disperses to points around the globe, marine scientist and expedition co-leader Enric Sala looks back on several weeks in one of the most isolated, intriguing, and ecologically unique corners of the vast Pacific. Petroglyphs depicting a tangata manu, or birdman, near...

Comandante Andres Rodrigo, commanding officer of the Comandante Toro, shares his thoughts on the Chilean Navy’s first patrol of the new marine park surrounding Salas y Gómez and on hosting a civilian expedition team aboard his ship. Chilean Navy Comandante Andres Rodrigo scans monitors on the bridge of the OPV Comandante Toro. By Ford Cochran...

Costa Rica has created a huge new marine park that increases five-fold the area of protected waters surrounding Cocos Island–home to some of the highest abundances of sharks and other large ocean predators recorded anywhere. A loophole that permits long-line fishing in some of the newly protected waters, however, may threaten the park’s sharks, tuna,...

For days, we’ve dived around Salas y Gómez and stood on deck, staring at its rocky, surf-swept contours. Much as we wanted to explore it above the waterline, a landing looked reckless, if not impossible. Michel Garcia had done it before, years ago, and thought it could be done again. He found a way. The...

Eric Berkenpas with National Geographic’s Remote Imaging team has brought along three dropcams–glass spheres with lights and video cameras inside designed to descend to the bottom, film, and return to the surface. Their purpose on this trip–to record deep-water creatures and environments near Salas y Gómez. I spoke with Eric about how the cameras work,...

European national leaders and environment ministers have gathered in Monaco to discuss the need for more marine protected areas and other strategies to conserve life in the oceans. National Geographic Executive Vice President for Mission Programs Terry Garcia addresses European environment leaders about the United States system of marine protected areas (MPAs) at the Monaco...

The giant extinct invertebrate Arthropleura resembled some modern millipedes, but could grow to be more than one-and-a-half feet wide, and may sometimes have been more than six feet long. Reconstruction of the giant millipede Arthropleura from the Pennsylvanian and earliest Permian of North America and Europe. The head capsule (marked by an asterisk) is shown...

University of Southern Mississippi ecophysiologist Eric Hoffmayer received a National Geographic Society/Waitt grant to tag and track whale sharks in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Last June while diving with Sylvia Earle and a filmmaking team led by Bob Nixon, Hoffmayer witnessed roughly 100 of the sharks–the largest gathering ever recorded of this, the world’s...

Aboard ship in the Gulf of Mexico, ecologist and author Carl Safina of Stony Brook University’s Blue Ocean Institute talks with Sylvia Earle about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its aftermath. “It was a wake-up call,” says Carl, “and I hope we don’t hit the snooze button because it will happen again. There are...

National Geographic has joined Google, CERN, the LEGO Group, and Scientific American to launch a global online science competition for students ages 13 to 18: The Google Science Fair. By Ford Cochran The next generation’s Albert Einsteins and Marie Curies got a chance to jumpstart their careers this morning with the debut of the Google...

PENSACOLA, Fla.–Scientists and representatives of several organizations head into the northern Gulf of Mexico from Pensacola this week on an expedition led by Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and Dr. Thomas Shirley, professor at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The expedition aims to explore and document several areas west and...

In a war-ravaged world that is beyond remote lurks an unseen killer named Kala-azar. National Geographic Education Fellow Jon Waterhouse shares a story of Old Fangak. By Jon Waterhouse In a very few days–on January 9, 2011–the people of southern Sudan will vote on a referendum for independence as part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement...